Committee on Environment, J&K Legislative Assembly, which met here today under the Chairmanship of MY Tarigami, while sharing the grave concern of the society about health hazards of seed cotton (Pollens) of poplar trees decided various short and long term measures to overcome the menace.
The Committee directed the Director Social Forestry to introduce the process of lopping of the poplar trees on massive scale throughout the Kashmir Division from the month of October this year as the experts of SKUAST have opined that 75 per cent of the problem could be reduced due to lopping (pruning/branch cutting) of poplar trees.
It was also decided that the department of Social Forestry would arrange alternate species of poplar trees to phase out the existing popular varieties (spreading the seed cotton) which is not only hazardous for health but also big cause of the Environment Pollution. The Committee has asked the government to arrange required funds for implementing both these measures.
The scientists of the Agriculture University and officials of Soil Conservation were of the view that it was the popular seeds and not pollens which are dispersed with the help of cotton produced by popular trees that cause allergy among living beings besides creating environment pollution.
The Director Social Forestry, Hafizullah Sadiqui informed the meeting that the department has introducing male poplar of five new clones in its nurseries adding that about one lakh plants shall be available in March, 2014 for mass plantation. “It was the only long term solution to control the problem of seed cotton problem caused by the existing species of poplar,” Sadiqui added that lopping is the short term solution which will help in reducing the cotton production by the existing poplar tree varieties. The Scientists of SKUAST also informed that new species of poplar which are not cotton producing have been developed by them that could be mass multiplied under collaboration between the SKUAST and the concerned departments like Social Forestry.
The meeting also decided to launch a massive awareness campaign to educate the people about the ill effects of cotton producing popular varieties and phasing out these with new hybrid species of poplar trees. The people need to be educated not to plant unverified popular species but use only certified cotton tree varieties.
The Health and Medical Education department was directed to evaluate the impact of existing species of popular trees on the health and issue advisory to take preventive measures against health hazards of seeds dispersed from these trees. The department was asked to release the evaluation report within three months.
It was also decided that all the District Development Commissioners (DDCs) will involve the concerned departments including Forest, Social Forestry, Health, Education, Panchayat institutions to organized seminar, awareness programmes about the short term measures including benefits of lopping of poplar trees and replacing the existing varieties with disease free varieties of poplar trees which are now available with both the Agriculture University as well as the Social Forestry Department.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chairman of the Environment Committee, MY Tarigami called for coordinated efforts of the concerned departments to overcome the problem as planting of poplars has also bearing on the livelihood of a big section of people including fruit growers and dealers. He called for providing immediate alternative to the people in place of the existing popular varieties which cause allergies due to spread of seed cotton.
He called for result oriented remedial measures against this problem. He also directed the Forest department to place on the table of the Expert Committee constitute in 2011 to suggest remedial measures against the problem.